David Plunkett, senior food safety attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, said the self-inflicted crisis would force the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to forgo 2,100 domestic and foreign food inspections, just as the agency was trying to implement new food safety rules.
"With fewer inspections, FDA won't be able to stop problems at food plants until people start getting sick -- or start dying," Plunkett said in a statement.
"The sequester means gutting the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food safety program by about $50 million. That means less food reaching consumers, higher prices, and an increased likelihood that the safety of our meat and poultry may be compromised."
The sequester is likely to cost meat and poultry producers more than $10 billion in losses, Plunkett said.
"The ill-considered sequestration now looming is anti-business, anti-family, anti-consumer and threatens the safety of our food supply," Plunkett said. "The White House and Congress should get rid of it."